The Tokyo Paralympic Games have ended – a year later than expected.
Despite the lack of spectators, there were the usual moments of joy, pain, agony and ecstasy.
We have seen the level of Paralympic sport rise once again, new stars have emerged, established athletes impress on the big stage and some Games veterans have passed the torch to the next generation.
BBC Sport looks back on some of the memorable moments …
Robinson’s post-race interview
Arriving at the Games as the defending champion, British swimmer Ellie Robinson apparently had some pressure on her shoulders.
But behind the scenes, the 20-year-old was facing a failure in her body – the Perthes disease she was diagnosed with in 2012 was causing her constant pain in her right hip and she needed an enormous amount of courage and determination to even make the starting line.
After failing to finish on the podium in her favorite 50m butterfly, she gave an emotional interview after the race in which she said her Games were a “story of triumph, not loss”.
âEven though I didn’t win a medal, I went out on my terms,â she said. “I’m so proud of myself for coming this far.”
Historic gold for British wheelchair rugby
The British wheelchair rugby team arrived in Tokyo as European champions, but failed to win a Paralympic medal with two fourth places, two fifths and a sixth since the sport made its debut in Sydney.
The road from GB to Tokyo was certainly not an easy one. Sport funding in the UK was cut after Rio before being partially restored, while the pandemic also had a massive impact on training.
But the team rose to the challenge with flying colors. A group loss to the United States was the only incident and when the teams met again in the final, GB emerged victorious 54-49 to trigger scenes of joy.
Sweet 17 for the floor
When she transitioned from swimming to biking in 2005, no one could have expected Sarah Storey to achieve the success she has except the woman herself.
She came to Tokyo knowing that three wins from her three races would set her to break Mike Kenny’s British record of 16 Paralympic gold medals.
She first set a new world record on her way to gold in the velodrome pursuit, then on the road, she won the time trial before the road race on a soggy Fuji Speedway for the cement. place in history.
After breaking the record, one of them main priorities was to come home to Cheshire and sew labels into the school uniforms of her daughter Louisa and son Charlie for their return to school.
It won’t be the last time we’ll see Storey – her kids want to see her competing in person again, so Paris beckons.
The GB Para-equestrian team triumphs over adversity
The odds were not on the side of the British para-equestrian team as they headed for Tokyo.
First, eight-time champion Sophie Christiansen was excluded after her horse was injured, then Sophie Wells’ first choice horse had to be replaced due to an injury.
This put pressure on Wells, Natasha Baker, Lee Pearson and Christiansen’s replacement Georgia Wilson, but the quartet delivered brilliant performances on inexperienced horses who had never competed overseas before.
They kept their Paralympic team title, which GB has owned since the sport made its Paralympic debut in 1996, beating the Netherlands by the narrowest margins.
It was one of eight medals in total with Pearson and his horse Breezer, which he has bred at home since birth, also winning two individual titles. The 47-year-old now has 14 gold medals in total.
Afghan athletes pull through thick and thin
The Paralympic dreams of Afghans Houssain Rasouli and Zakia Khudadadi seemed over when the Taliban seized power.
But surprisingly, the couple were evacuated from Kabul as part of a “major global operation”, traveling to France and then to Japan. their arrival has been celebrated around the world.
Rasouli arrived too late for his favorite 100m event and instead participated in the long jump while Khudadadi took part in the taekwondo event on Thursday.
The results didn’t matter – it was more than that.
Boccia King Smith reigns supreme
When it comes to boccia, it doesn’t get any better than Briton David Smith and he captivated viewers as he faced Malaysian Chew Wei Lun in the BC1 final.
While cycling and athletics show speed and power, and wheelchair rugby and wheelchair basketball are all crash, bang, wallop, boccia, which is similar to bocce, has a mix. special skill, tactics and precision.
It also occupies a key place in the Paralympic movement, welcoming some of the most disabled athletes to the Games, and it is one of two sports that has no Olympic equivalent.
In Tokyo, in his fourth Games, Smith needed his senses to come back 2-0 after the first set of his match. win 4-2 and retain their title.
“I wouldn’t be a Paralympian without boccia,” said Smith, who carried the British flag at the closing ceremony. “I swim like a brick, I can’t run, I can’t throw a club in track and field. What else could I do?”
Double delight for the Fachies
Husband and wife Neil and Lora Fachie had an unforgettable day at the Izu Velodrome on August 28.
The couple, both visually impaired, are a key member of the GB Paracycling team with their drivers Matt Rotherham and Corrine Hall.
And the schedule meant their two main events, Neil’s B 1000m time trial and Lora’s B 3000m pursuit final, were on the same day, minutes apart.
In London, Neil got the gold while Lora missed and four years later in Rio the tables were turned with Lora victorious and Neil absent.
But this time, they both won gold in the span of 16 minutes and could share that special moment together, showing Jason and Laura Kenny that there is more of a powerful couple in British cycling.
More precious than a medal
Cape Verdean sprinter Keula Nidreia Pereira Semedo may not have won a medal in her women’s T11 200m race, but she is coming home with something shiny – an engagement ring.
After finishing last in his race, Semedo’s guide runner Manuel Antonio Vaz da Veiga rounded up the rest of the field and knelt down on the track to offer them.
Lucky for him, she said yes.
Vas da Veiga said he had planned the magical moment since Semedo was selected for the Cape Verde squad in July.
âI thought this was the best opportunity and the best place to do it,â he said.
Peacock’s sprint thriller
Jonnie Peacock came to Tokyo in pursuit of a third consecutive 100m crown and although he failed to win gold, he competed in one of the closest and most thrilling races of the T64 final – one of the events that shows the growing level of para-sport.
The top four athletes crossed the finish line in 0.04 seconds, gold going to Germany’s Felix Streng in 10.76 seconds and silver to Costa Rican Sherman Isidro Guity Guity.
Peacock and Germany’s Johannes Floors endured an agonizing wait of more than three minutes before being confirmed as joint bronze medalists each with a time of 10.786.
âIf that’s not an 11-second Paralympic sport commercial, I don’t know what it is,â Peacock said.
Japan embraces Paralympic Games in tough times
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the Paralympic Games and the Covid-19 protocols in place amid the growing number of cases in the country, Japan has taken the Games to heart.
The host athletes also rose to the challenge with 51 medals, including 13 gold, including eight in the last three days of competition, including one for wheelchair tennis player Shingo Kunieda.
The men’s wheelchair basketball team, ranked ninth in the pre-World Games, nearly turned it into a fairytale ending, but lost to the defending champions USA in a thrilling final.
It wasn’t the Games the Japanese public expected – or deserved – but the volunteers and staff deserve immense credit for making sure they ran smoothly.